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October 12, 2015

Kevin Wilson

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH WILSON: Thanks for being here. Going back and recapping Saturday. I think not a very -- what I consider poor play and performance on our part, particularly starting on the offensive side. We only had one player we felt had a winning grade, winning performance, championship level was Ricky Jones. We had no player of the game, any more than one guy playing, gritting out at a winning effort to play well, especially against a great opponent defensively and on the road.

Got to do a better job in our planning, starting with me and our staff, just giving our players to have a better chance to be a little bit more aggressive, get a run game going again. The ability to convert and stay on schedule and be a lot more aggressive. We have been looking how we can get ourselves back in sync and rhythm, and we'll get a tough challenge here with multiple looks at Rutgers. We've got to help our players out as coaches a lot.

We are dealing with some glitches, but everyone does. It's nothing more than college ball. You have guys that are prepared and ready to go. You've got to play to their strengths. Every team has strengths. Every team has weaknesses. We've got to maximize some things we're good at, get back to it -- with our line of scrimmage play, tight end play, and helping our skill guys continue to heal up as well as young skill guys keep coming along.

Players need to step up, and coaches do too. We need to move forward positively and expect to do so.

We had a really good week last week from our scout look. I thought we were really prepared well. We recognized our front four, scout D-line was awesome. We knew we were going to get a great challenge with Penn State's front. Michael Barwick, Derrian Meminger, really great to see those guys. Michael had a little injury, but he's back full go and coming along very nicely for a second year guy that you need to develop, both he and Derrian.

Brandon Wilson, who's been close to playing, we haven't played him yet. I think we played 12 freshmen. I think that's 60 in five years. So we're playing a fair amount of young guys. Brandon is close, but the way Shaw, Mangieri, and some of those edge guys are playing, Gooch going out there, we're able right now maybe to hold his year. We'll see. Tony Thomas does a great job as well. Those are our scout team players of the week.

We had a great week of prep from those guys. Expected to play better. We've got to plan it up and dial it up and get us to get back in rhythm.

Danny Cameron did a good job when he was thrown out there. Managed it okay. Had one turnover. Not his fault. It was a batted ball. Had a receiver kind of run a route poorly that brought the guy that made the interception play that we've got to clean up.

We had seven three and outs, which was not a good deal. Five times we crossed the 50 yard line, and we scored one touchdown. That wasn't a good deal. Too many missed assignments, lack of physical play. That tells me maybe we're doing too much. We've got to get back and not necessarily simplify things but put our kids in better places to play well.

The kicking game, player of the game was Danny Godsil. Had three tackles on punt coverage. He's a true freshman. He's doing a great job of snapping for us. He's been outstanding. That was a huge loss for us last year losing our snapper and with Matt Dooley, and the way Danny has been coming, it's been very, very good for us. Pleased with him.

Erich Toth had four punts inside the 20. He was having a great day until his last kick placement got out into the middle of the field and covering the whole field today, we gave up a 19-yard return. Outside that, the punt team was a lot better. Ben Bach was very good on that punt team. We had Tyler Green and Simmie Cobbs did a great job. Great to see Tyler out there playing. Played a little bit of defense. They were on punt return.

Mario Swann, our kickoff returner, was very, very good. And Dameon Willis and Dawson Fletcher. As a matter of fact, I think Fletcher is the one that had that onside kick return. I think we have it as Dawkins, but it was Fletcher, I think, 29, 28. Is that right? Double-check. Fletcher is saying it's him, FYI.

Defensively and in the kicking game, we did okay. We still didn't have impact as far as crediting any significant field position turnovers. Our punt team did okay. When the offense is going three and out, you really didn't flip the field a lot. You didn't pin them down deep. We didn't have any significant returns or anything that really impacted the game.

Again, when you're playing in the Big Ten East and when you play on the road, we just have got to push and find ways to get more guys recognized and making plays for us in kicking.

Defensively, I thought our defense played hard, played well. I thought they were put in a lot of bad situations the way the offense executed, kept throwing them out there. They weathered a little bit in the second and fourth quarter and didn't tackle as well down the stretch in both those quarters. Again, they really battled for the bulk of that game. Gave up a couple big plays. We've got to keep working to minimize. Had some solid performances.

Nick Mangieri graded well. That's 5 of 6 games he's had what we consider a winning performance. Zack Shaw played very well. That's 3 of 6 games for him. Marcus Oliver was a winning grade. That's 4 of 6 performances. So those three guys are playing high end ball for us. We need more guys like that.

T.J. Simmons had a championship performance, winning grade, as did Rashard Fant. Two players of the game were Zack Shaw and Rashard Fant. Scouts, Chris Gajcak, young walk-on receiver for us, and Camion Patrick was awesome. Did a great, great job for us, and he's doing very, very well.

Defensively, had some nice quarterback pressures, tackle for losses, sacks. Got to keep building on that. We were solid on third down. We didn't allow them in the three scores, opportunities to score, 3 for 3. We had too many missed tackles. Probably our poorest tackling performance to date. We had three penalties that led to two first downs and eliminated a possible turnover.

I don't -- I think I saw it, and I could be wrong. You guys will say our penalties are killing us, but I think Ohio State is the most penalized team in the league. They're number one in the nation. So penalties hurt you, but when you're playing aggressive -- and some of the foolish penalties, some of those offsides, you'd like to clean up.

Years ago working for Coach Walker, he would go crazy every time a defensive lineman jumped offsides. Can't you see the ball? He would just go crazy. I went to Oklahoma, and Coach Stoops never said a word because he said, you can't jump the ball if you don't jump offsides. Sometimes some things are going to happen, and you have to live with it.

We need to minimize it, but our team is playing harder. Sometimes again you're going to get your hands outside and get a cheap holding call or grab and get a face mask. You're aggressive, and we've got hands to the face, and that's football. A guy just got high. A couple times they got in our face. Sometimes it's called. Sometimes it's not. It's just part of the game. Kids play hard.

We want to clean up the penalties. I don't think it's by any means the reason we lost the football game. We got beat at the line of scrimmage, offensively in particular. We've got to do a better job playing and score some points. When you muster one touchdown, you're not going to win a whole lot of football games.

Moving on to Rutgers, they're coming in at 2-3. However, they lost to Washington State on the last play of the game. Michigan State, they got it last play of the game, trying to drive. They give up a touchdown and basically controlled that game against a great football team here two, three days ago. They lost at Penn State when they were dealing with some issues. That is the three losses. Washington State just beat Oregon. Michigan State is undefeated. Penn State is 5-1. They lost to an undefeated team. They've got three losses. They lost to three pretty good football teams.

They're very, very talented. 9 of the last 10 years -- might be 10 of 11 -- they've been in Bowl games. Play with a great deal of pride, energy, and effort. You watch the way they swarm the ball defensively. You look at their skill set. The way they run the power and counter and play action game on offense. They're multiple "D," multiple coverages, multiple blitzes. Really make your quarterback work, make your offensive line work, can get you off schedule. Pressure and coverage looks.

They're a very long, athletic, very, very skilled group defensively. Offensively, a bunch of motion shift and trade. Multiple personnel groupings from big boy sets to spread sets. But to run the ball with power and counter, gap schemes, play action, and take their shots, and they're throwing it to maybe one of the better players in not only the conference but in college football. The young man Cruz, a tremendous and very talented receiver. It's a threat to score every play he's on the field, very, very dynamic receiver. I think half of his receptions are touchdown catches. Very good receiver.

Quarterback leads the Big Ten in efficiency. So a guy that can make some plays. Running backs run very, very hard. They had 185 yards rushing positively against Michigan State before you hit the sacks. Michigan State had 144. So they got after those guys pretty good there.

Return guy, Grant, No. 1, is a dynamic returner. Three touchdown returns. Two kickoff returns for a touchdown. One punt returner. He's their fly sweep, dynamic receiver. Great skill set. Another Big Ten East game, which is not easy. We've got them here Saturday at 3:30.

I thought our crowd was awesome last time we were here. Our team needs to play better. I know they will and respond the right way. I'd like to see our fans rally up and be with us and have a great go for homecoming against a great team this week. Questions?

Q. Updates on Nate, Jordan, Zander, all those guys?
COACH WILSON: Zander's going to be interesting now because his shoulder issue -- and it's on his right shoulder -- how well he can throw. I think as we go through the week -- he didn't do anything yesterday. I think he's got a week or two maybe to be out. We'll see. If he can play, he'll play.

Nate did more last night than he did any day last week. He did a few things last week. He was at practice. He didn't take any live throws until Friday. He did half the work on Friday, he and Zander, to see if he'd be ready to go. Danny had all the work last week. That's why we thought he came in and did pretty well.

We'll see how Nate is. I think he'll be -- again, to me, he was cleared to play, but I didn't think he was mobile enough to move around and extend some plays or protect himself. As we go through this week, we'll see. He did more last night at practice than any day last week, and he did half of Friday. We'll get Danny and Nate Boudreau ready and see where Zander sits.

Jordan was running last night. His deal, cutting more. We'll see as we go through the week where he sets up. Zander did not practice last night. The other two guys did. Other two guys more than they did last week. We'll see as the week goes.

Q. What about Isaac Griffith?
COACH WILSON: He got an ACL that's going to require surgery. His knee gave way, and unfortunately for him, it's past -- he'd already been redshirted. He's playing special teams. We'll need to kick up there and keep pushing over to Coach Johns, bringing last night to get extra work. We've got Donavan Hale playing outside, playing receiver with Westbrook and Thornton. I keep bringing those cats along.

Q. Wes Martin, anything on Wes?
COACH WILSON: He just wasn't playing good. Wes Rogers played a lot. I think he's a young guy, as hard as he's been going. Hit a wall. We need to see him play better. Offensive line needs to play better. We're doing too much, getting too assignment oriented instead of just playing at pad level and staying on track and coming off the ball.

Defensively, there's so many looks between all the formations. There's so many looks between all the things that we can do. There's so many looks defensively. I just think sometimes as an offense, you don't want to simplify, but you can get a lot of clutter. I think we're getting a little too assignment conscious. We're trying to grab hold and get a guy and come off with the velocity to move with the football.

I think Wes and those young guys played very, very well. Wes has more winning championship performances than any other offensive lineman. Excuse me. Dan Feeney is first. Wes Martin is second. We've got other good players that haven't showed up yet, playing like we need to play.

So we'll keep that group coming along, but Wes will be playing. He didn't get hurt. As a matter of fact, he came back in, and we just thought he wasn't playing well.

Q. As far as Kyle Flood's suspension, anything they do differently with him in terms of an interim coach?
COACH WILSON: I don't know. You need to ask those guys. From what you'd gather, he's been part of all the planning and prep. I could be wrong, but I think Kyle probably has done a lot of his play calling through his offensive coordinator and through his defensive coordinator. So the only thing he was doing was game management, A, do we go for it on third down? Field goal range? Are we sky punting? Do we decline the penalty? I think that's where Coach Wilson, Norries has been doing that stuff.

During the week, I'm sure Norries was the running back coach, and Kyle was the head coach organizing practice. I think they basically operate as standard issue until Friday night, and he was not allowed to be with the team from all day Saturday. So it would just be game day management.

Q. Looking at the penalties, do you think it's more of a ticky tack situation? Or do you think it's something to focus on with your players? Looking back at the Penn State game, you had the fumble that was recovered and called back. They talked to a couple of players that the hand got a little bit higher. What do you consider in terms of the balance there? Is it ticky tack, referees calling those things?
COACH WILSON: I don't think it's ticky tack. It's day and age of concussion. You've got to protect people's hands and faces. If you get high, they've got to take care of player safety, outside of managing the game, I think it's the number one thing that the referees are taught and need to do. I think our league is on the forefront of that. So any time someone's getting high to the face, it's going to be called.

Unfortunately, you've got a taller, bigger person. Taller people play higher. The higher you go, you get it. Sometimes it happens. They know that. At the same time, we didn't -- we need to move on them and make the next play and get a stop, and two plays later they scored.

But then from there, to me where the game swung is we score, tie it up, get an onside kick, go three and out. We get a turnover, get one first down and punt again. We had a chance there at the end of the first quarter, we had settled down, weathered the storm, and we left some points on the field. We're at midfield back to back times. We have just scored, and we can really get rhythm going offensively. I think that is one point where the game went away.

I think the other point, where they had made their couple scores in the second quarter, defense played a good third quarter. I think the 11, 10, 9, 8-minute mark offensively there in the fourth quarter, where, again, it's 19-7. You score a touchdown, your defense is playing good defense, they're going to get a stop. It's 19-14. Score again, it's 20-19. It's going to be a 20-19 or 22-19 game, and you're playing two-minute football.

There's a couple of times that I thought the offense let the team and defense down. Wasn't the hands to the face. Turnovers happen. Defense is playing good football. You got an onside kick, get a turnover, get zero for it. You're on the road 7-7. You've weathered the storm. Now let's go play and get momentum on your side.

Basically, the offense just zapped the energy from our football team, and our football team got stale with our inability to make offensive plays. That's my take.

Q. So trouble with offense and kick returns. Rutgers is 12th in the Big Ten in touchback percentage. You guys are 12th in the Big Ten in kickoff return yards average per return. Are you looking for a spark? Is there going to be a change on kickoff returns at all?
COACH WILSON: As far as?

Q. As far as putting different people back there.
COACH WILSON: Yeah. At the same time, I think we've got who we think are the guys we need back there. There's times where you can use the runners. Ricky Jones is good. Those are hits that have some effect on what's going on.

We've talked -- the way the ball -- and you're saying their kick guy hasn't kicked it as deep, and there's a potential for more returns. Last week Penn State's guy took it from eight yards deep. It didn't matter. He was coming out. They've got good athletes covering kicks.

To me, we just got to score points. We're protecting the football. We're not trying to play boring football. We're not trying to be conservative. We threw as many passes as we ran the other day. We've just got to get the ball in the end zone. We've got to create some things. They've got a dynamic return kit. They have a dynamic receiver and a dynamic return guy, and with that, they play physical football. Along the way, they're scoring some points.

We've got to get back and generate some point production because really we haven't done that since Western Kentucky, to tell you the truth. Wake Forest was a little lethargic. So we've had three games of not being the offense we need to be.

Q. To get the offensive line back where you want it in terms of controlling things. How much is stuff you need to do? How much is maybe with Nate out, the defenses don't fear the pass as much, and they can jam things up and make it more difficult for you?
COACH WILSON: I think they were doing it a little bit earlier too. Good question, but I think we've got to threaten some people with the pass game. That doesn't mean just throw it. You can't have the long foul balls. They only remember the ones that you click and hit. So just throwing it deep doesn't scare me. You've got to make some shots. You've got to make some plays. Receivers need to keep coming through. We're trying to get the tight ends more involved.

Again, we're not trying to be a three-yard cloud of dust team. We kind of got that way with Jordan and the line of tight ends. Yeah, the box has gotten crowded. It's not because Nate's hurt. It's gotten more crowded, I think just our inability to make some one-on-one big plays we need to make.

Q. How has Danny Friend's absence affected your ability to seal the edge a little bit?
COACH WILSON: Maybe to some degree. At the same time, Michael Cooper had four winning grades the first four games at tight end. And Anthony Corsaro and Jordan to continue to move up. We've actually played for two games, Brandon Knight has been out there. You guys haven't noticed that. He's been out there, 89. That's a 270-pound kid. We're getting some big boy sets to just help us get that presence going a little bit too. He's still playing offensive tackle, but he's a great young blocker. We're trying to get him on the field and take advantage of him.

Q. How far has he come in the last --

Q. Yeah. How far has he come since last year?
COACH WILSON: I think all of them are better. Again, just the way he's born and the way he's made, not just that he's a coach's kid, he's reasonably calm. Just his personality, he's not over hyped up. He has been around the game. He goes out there and talks and communicates and can call the plays, plays within himself. He can distribute the ball. He throws it pretty well.

And, again, Nate Boudreau is about the same. If he's a little bit off or not playing well, we need to play Nate. Nate was a guy we played last year. Put him in the Michigan game until he actually had a shoulder injury. He's a fourth year kid.

So we need both those guys. We'll see how Zander moves along, but we'll push hard. We don't need Sudfeld to play this game because we've lost. We need him to play because he's capable of playing and can help us win. We'll push Nate and get Danny and Nate Boudreau ready to go.

Q. Thoughts on bringing Austin King up off the redshirt?
COACH WILSON: No. I think those guys are further along. Austin, in terms of where he is and his development, needs to get strong. His command presence as a young guy is not where it is compared to the other guys. His talent is going to be very good, but I don't think his presence and understanding is quite there yet.

Q. Dominique Booth, is he off for the year, taking a redshirt?
COACH WILSON: Yeah, he had an issue earlier that kind of held him up. He had a hand issue that we went ahead and did a surgery on him. Right now he's in a cast. He's missing some time. It's kind of like Devonte Williams. He hurt his knee. It wasn't a major deal, but he hadn't come back. If he hadn't played or hurt it early, he could get a redshirt year. If we need Williams, we can get him back. If not, we'll pursue that as a redshirt. He got hurt game three. Has yet to practice. He has a nonsurgical knee.

Dominique Booth had an issue where he couldn't practice. He had a hand. We went ahead and repaired his hand. It needs to be set up like Donovan Clark. It can be a redshirt year if we need him, and we'll see how it goes.

Q. Off the wall question a little bit. Texas a couple weeks ago had a player at halftime tweeting. What's your policy on that? Do you allow players to have phones? Have you ever had a player tweet at halftime?
COACH WILSON: They're supposed to watch that for me sometimes. I don't know. Sometimes I do my policing, and I don't like some of the stuff those guys put out.

We work very, very hard to try to use social media to be a positive branding. So we try to just -- we have several people that come in and work with our team and show them things. Whether it just be a comment like, man, practices are hard. The coaches are killing us, in that tone. Versus like, man, a lot of energy at practice today, and we were getting after it. It was a lot of fun. Both are hard practices. But one time you sound like you're complaining or don't feel good about it. We just try to show messages, if you're going to say something, try to say it in a positive light.

Kids -- like I will show a message, and I'd ask -- my son specifically asked me because you're one of his idols -- what this word means. Would you like to come over here and explain it to my son, what your slang slogan means over here? People, whether you're retweeting -- so we try to educate as best we can.

Everyone's got bat phones, but we actually take our phones from our kids Friday night, always have, just so they go to sleep and just to get off of it. As a matter of fact, we've got these little goggle glasses we give them. You guys ought to get them. Look like hunting glasses, only about three bucks. But they take the blue light effect away when you're watching TV at night or on your phone. When they take the blue light effect, it enables you to get -- if the blue light affects your melatonin, which gets you 90 minutes later into deep sleep. So we actually give our guys glasses to wear on the road to just try to sleep better and to just get you into -- the sooner you can get into deep sleep and get a testosterone kick, the better you recover, the more energy, the better brain activity, central nervous system, the whole gig.

So we, for years, have taken phones Friday night just so our kids would get -- we give them to them first thing Saturday morning. I actually saw one of my guys Saturday. He was listening to music. He was like texting probably his mom, love you too. You want to say something, but at the same time, he's probably dealing with a loved one. You don't say anything. It's the world you live in. Everybody wants to listen to their music. You live -- everybody has their songs, their playlist, their stuff right now. It's really individual like. You know what I mean? We've got our music playing for the group. And you've got the rap guys. I've got to play a clean version of songs. Some kids don't want that version. I can't play the non-clean version on a public deal because I've got recruits and parents and alumni people walking around the building. Everybody's got their headphones on. Everybody's got their style.

We tell them -- we come in on the walk, we take them off because we want our players to interact with their fans and their families. So we try to address it, but it's just the world we're living in. Like I say, nothing's off the record.

I've never seen a kid of ours on the phone once the game has started, but at the same time, they have their phones in their lockers, and if a kid wanted to walk over and do something, he could. I know of programs that actually make players, when they come in the building, check their phones in. Because the kid can sit there and record any meeting. You've heard coaches -- I know of certain programs, you walk in the building, you check your phone in because it's family business. You're at a place where it's just easy to hit record.

Anyway, it is a part of the world. We work very, very hard, and I think our school does a great job -- keg's a part of it. We track our guys. We don't try to -- I think I've had one player since I've been here. I took his right to Twitter away. It was a young freshman years ago. I said, you're talking way too much, and you don't play, and I just was making a point. We gave it back to him six months later. That's why we didn't have Nate talk today. He didn't play. He practiced more last night. Last week we thought he could play and had been talking. He played in the game.

To me, you just want guys to talk that are playing for you, and you want to teach your team how to positively represent your program and your school because you guys watch it, the fans watch it, our recruits watch it, little kids watch it, and we just try to work real hard to make it a positive.

Q. [ No microphone ] not just here, but it seems like conference-wide, nationwide, but are these preventative things you think? Or are these pretty individual deals?
COACH WILSON: You're going to have freak stuff. I know there's an NFL study on what they've done with shoes. Which shoe brand is likely to cause it? Does it have anything to do with it or just the way the guy got hit? I think there's been some studies on we have developed muscles so strong, but are the tendons and ligaments as strong to carry the force of the muscle? So there's been some studies and some information on that that you see more pec tears and bicep tears last couple of years. You've got violent kids that are running fast and planting hard. You get a knee. You get an ACL.

I've always felt, if a guy was playing hard and a guy was moving his feet, he had less chance to get hurt. Always felt linemen that were standing around leaning, stationary, was an ACL or a high ankle sprain because you're just standing. If you're moving and you've got great feet movement or footwork and your feet are really moving, odds of someone catching me are minimized because I'm moving so fast. You've got to catch me just right. That's why we have our quarterbacks wear the knee on the left brace because, as they're sitting there, they're unprotected. When they get hit, just trying to give those guys a little bit of support.

So part of the game. We're looking and talking, but we've actually looked at some things as we've strengthened muscles with our nutrition. Are there supplements or things that are legal that could maybe help some of the ligaments and tendons as you go through things?

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